• Kevin Esser

Portugal, part I

Samira and I actually had other plans, but they were messed up by the "C-word." So Plan B was needed. We have never traveled there before and the combination of beautiful beaches and possible winter herping made the decision quite easy: Portugal.


The first days we stayed near Lagos. We spend most of the time at different beaches, enjoying the sun & scenery (around 18°C). I always looked for critters close to the beach... I found nothing at all.



Ponta da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade
Praia do Castelejo
Praia do Castelejo

For sure we did some herping too. While searching for possible temporary ponds, we came across a Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) mommy with seven piglets. Interesting.

Later we found the ponds but they were almost completely dry. Luckily a Viperine Snake was around, doing the same thing we did: hunting amphibians.


Sus scrofa - Wild Boar
Sus scrofa - Wild Boar
Piglets
Piglets
Natrix maura - Viperine Snake
Natrix maura - Viperine Snake
Viperine Snake - portrait
Viperine Snake - portrait

Besides tadpoles and salamander larvas, we only found some Iberian Waterfrogs (Pelophylax perezi). On the way back to our apartment, we saved a Spiny Toad (Bufo spinosus) from the road. The Moorish Geckos (Tarentola mauritanica) around the house are always highly appreciated.


Pelophylax perezi - Iberian Waterfrog
Pelophylax perezi - Iberian Waterfrog
Bufo spinosus - Spiny Toad
Bufo spinosus - Spiny Toad
Tarentola mauritanica - Moorish Gecko
Tarentola mauritanica - Moorish Gecko
Moorish Gecko - portrait
Moorish Gecko - portrait

One herping day I was allowed to take us away from the coast to a beautiful habitat further inland. Algerian Sand Racer (Psammodromus algirus), Moorish Geckos and a Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita) was all we got after hours of searching. Too little for such a nice place, so I was kindly complaining a little bit on our way back. Shortly before we reached our car, I found a Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus). Complaining canceled! Such a cool snake and conclusion of the day!


Psammodromus algirus - Algerian Sand Racer
Psammodromus algirus - Algerian Sand Racer
Buthus occitanus - Yellow Scorpion
Buthus occitanus - Yellow Scorpion
Epidalea calamita - Natterjack Toad
Epidalea calamita - Natterjack Toad
Natterjack Toad - portrait
Natterjack Toad - portrait

Malpolon monspessulanus - Montpellier Snake
Malpolon monspessulanus - Montpellier Snake
Mantis religiosa - European Mantis
Mantis religiosa - European Mantis

After some more beach trips, it finally rained. So we went back to the pond were we found the Viperine Snake before. The pond was now 10 times the size than it was before and the whole area was swampy. My hope to find amphibians raised as much as the water level.


Praia da Marinha
Praia da Marinha
Carrapateira
Carrapateira
Ponta da Piedade - again
Ponta da Piedade - again

Soon I found my first time ever Pygmy Marbled Newt (Triturus pygmaeus). Since my childhood when I noticed a picture of this beautiful newt in one of my books, I really wanted to see one in the wild. By the way, I don't know why it took me so long to visit Portugal anyway :-D

Samira found two tiny Boscá's Newts (Lissotriton boscai) at the edge of the pond. By that time I found my second Pygmy Marbled Newt. Along with the rain and dark, the Western Spadefoot (Pelobates cultripes) popped out of the ground. While I was taking pictures of one of them, Samira called me: "Here is a big one!" ~That can only mean one thing!!~ As fast as possible I scampered to her. (I had to watch my steps because of the risk to walk on a newt or toad, or just fall in a puddle.) After maybe 20 seconds that seemed like an hour to me, I arrived at my beloved being... and my girlfriend pointed her flashlight at it: a large Sharp-ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl) ! Very happily we called it a night and went home. We saved a slightly smaller Sharp-ribbed Newt from the road on our way back. The next day we went to the same spot to take some pictures and to kill some time between the check out / check in time of our two apartments.


Pelobates cultripes - Western Spadefoot
Pelobates cultripes - Western Spadefoot
Triturus pygmaeus - Pygmy Marbled Newt
Triturus pygmaeus - Pygmy Marbled Newt
Lissotriton boscai - Boscá's Newt
Lissotriton boscai - Boscá's Newt
Pleurodeles waltl - Sharp-ribbed Newt
Pleurodeles waltl - Sharp-ribbed Newt